By Meghan Hall
The Roosevelt neighborhood just north of Seattle has historically been viewed as a suburb, with previous development consisting historically of detached, single-family homes and scattered low-rise apartment complexes. However, with the anticipated introduction of the Roosevelt Light Rail Station and the neighborhood’s easy commute into downtown, Roosevelt is seeing a wave of higher-density projects working their way through the permitting process, according to city planning documents. One such proposal, submitted by Pastakia Real Estate Development and ENCORE Architects for 841 NE 68th St., exemplifies the current rate of change Roosevelt is undergoing. The development team proposes converting four parcels, each developed with separate single-family homes, into a 98-unit apartment complex with retail. At the end of March, the 841 NE 68th St. project received approval from the Northeast Design Board at its Early Design Meeting to move to a Master Use Permit.
The project plans did not delineate precisely how much retail would be included in the development, only that the project is expected to be around 85,800 square feet. 40 vehicular parking spots are also included in the plans.
Pastakia Real Estate and ENCORE presented several massing options to the Board; in project documents the development team states, “[The] vision of this development is to create a residential community that seamlessly blends into the established Roosevelt neighborhood as a timeless and elegant design that provides a comfortable place for residents and visitors.”
The development team’s preferred option focuses on the varying multiple architectural styles along NE 68th St. The overall mass of the building will be organized by frame and rectilinear forms. The east façade of the building is gridded through the use of serrated bay windows, which will add texture and depth in addition to increasing building surface area for additional glazing. A cornice element at the roofline will connect the project to development located to its west, while the use of a podium will bring the building down to the pedestrian level and focus further attention on the building’s entry.
The main lobby of the building will be located on the eastern, street facing, corner of the building, closest to the future light-rail station. The entry will be differentiated through the use of large expansions of glass. Stoop-style porches will also work to elevate ground-level units and provide a buffer to pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
The Board, echoing public comment, was overall supportive of the massing options presented by the development team. After some discussion, the Board elected to move forward with the continued massing option, provided that the design is further developed to incorporate a grid system with both horizontal and vertical elements. The grid system, said the Board, should help to express individual units and encouraged the incorporation of full, usable balconies to help support this end. While materials weren’t widely discussed at the EDG meeting, the Board encouraged the use of high-quality materials, stating that materiality was imperative to the grid massing that was recommended during the review.
The project site is located in a popular part of the neighborhood, just several blocks from the Roosevelt commercial core, which contains a shopping center anchored by a Whole Foods Market and numerous other eateries such as Portage Bay Café and Wayward Coffeehouse. 841 NE 68th St. will be two blocks from the Roosevelt Light Rail Station upon its completion and is also within walking distance to Roosevelt High School and Calvary Christian Assembly. A ten minute drive down Interstate 5 will get future residents into downtown with little fuss.
With the above considerations in mind, the Board recommended that the project move forward to apply to a Master Use Permit application, requiring only one meeting for the first part of the design review process. The development’s anticipated delivery will continue Roosevelt’s transformation from primarily single-family into a higher-density neighborhood with mixed-use structures that feature ground-level commercial space and upper level residential.